Final Reflections is the final book in popular “Here and Now” columnist Mike Strand’s “Meditations” Trilogy (Meditations on Brain Injury, Expanded Consciousness, and Final Reflections), all of which are available through Lash Publishing. Final Reflections contains the culmination of Mr. Strand’s nearly thirty-year journey living with a severe brain injury that resulted when his pickup truck was t-boned by a semi-truck. Final Reflections contains over 50 short essays that consider brain injury from every angle. The author has seen brain injury not only through his own experience, but through listening to numerous experiences from those who’s stories have entered his mind and touched his heart as he participated in, and then facilitated numerous support groups. We all share a common experience in our own way, and Mike has a natural gift with words that allows him to express the many frustrations and emotions in clear language, often with humor. He also realizes that sunny expressions and breezy quotations, while they have their place, are a dime a dozen. His lines are from the heart and his words ring true. He talks about finding the real world tools an individual can access to confront the here and now.
In 1989 I was on my way home from work and was broadsided by a semi-truck. Of course, I don't remember the event at all, and blame could be placed on either party. I don't waste time and energy assigning blame. The first responders at the scene were all guys I worked with at Andersen Windows and they knew me. They tell me when they got to me they assumed I was just unconscious as I had no apparent injuries – I wasn't bleeding and nothing looked broken. My truck was all smashed on one side and had been booted a good seventy-five feet, so they were somewhat astonished I didn't look worse.
Then they took my vitals and discovered that they couldn't find any blood pressure and that I was barely alive. They had recently acquired a pneumatic splint and that was the only reason they were able to keep me alive until I reached the hospital.
The hospital they brought me to was a Level 1 Trauma Center and I was fortunate to be taken there. I spent ten days in a coma and several times my temperature spiked over 108. The staff were quite sure that I would be severely retarded if I ever came out of my coma and they advised my family to start looking at nursing homes for me to transfer to, in the event I lived.
As I drifted out of my coma I was transferred to the rehab floor. I spent a total of eight weeks in the hospital and many months in out-patient care. Ultimately, I completed my rehab and was released from watchful eyes. That was when my real odyssey began.
Brain injury does not fit into the normal pattern of “treat and release” that so many other health conditions operate in. Additionally, unlike many chronic health conditions, brain injury is not something that people can "see." Many people with brain injuries people look normal. On top of that there is the stigma that since people are released from care, they must be all right.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The most common reaction when a person is told they are done with rehab is, "Hey, I'm not better!" Actually, it is more of a gradual realization that grows on one after time. The realization comes some time after when the person finds that they aren't able to function as before. Real recovery, from an individual's perspective, begins when rehab ends. When all the guards and protections, real and figurative, are removed. This is a path that is trod, for the most part, alone. It is different for everyone.
I offer my 20+ years of experience with brain injury recovery as a resource for others. I would like to have been able to offer this to myself when I was just out of the hospital. How I would have treasured and devoured such a book, a book from my future self explaining how to get through it all! But such time tricks are not to be. I can however, offer this book to others. Some of your experiences will no doubt be different, but many will likely be similar.
Table of Contents
About the Author
It’s More than Memory
It’s Always a Balancing Act
Building a Brain Injury Bridge
Meditations on Purpose
TBI and the last days of Pompeii
The Four Things
Brain Injury and Marriage
How not to make friends
Just Kinda Goin’ With It
The Forty-Seven Percent Rule
My Path to Meditation
No one survives a brain injury
TBI is too Convenient
How Would You Prepare?
Flooding: When I’m caught in the flood
Is Brain Injured, Brain Damaged?
My First Compassionate Reaction
The Simplest Things Can Seem So Hard
Courage and Grace
April Fool’s Day
A Barrier to Relationships
To Push or to Rest
Living Your Story
Glory Days and TBI
Equanimity of Acceptance
Looking beyond “who am I?” to “who am I becoming?”
Everyone Looks Older
One Day Older
A Heart without Trust
A Lost Past
The Speed of Now
Dancing in the Dark
When is Now?
College Physics and TBI
Anywhere is Walking Distance if you have the Time
No More Anger
Writing Your Own Book
A look at the writing process
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